Is ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, unconstitutional, bad policy, both, or neither? Does it impermissibly hand out rights in domestic relations disputes based on forbidden grounds of race and lineage? My new Reason piece on SCOTUS’s adoption heartbreaker is now out. ICWA advocates have argued that the law should be read generously as an effort to remedy a long earlier history in which Indian kids had been improperly been taken out of their homes. More on the case: SCOTUSBlog (I recommend in particular the amicus brief on behalf of family law experts Joan Heifetz Hollinger and Elizabeth Bartholet), ABA, oral argument transcript. And for a viewpoint extremely different from mine, Matthew Fletcher and Kate Fort write up the case at the Indian law blog Turtle Talk (first, second).(& SCOTUSBlog, How Appealing)
He signed his unwed-dad rights away by text message — then, when the girl was more than two years old, the baldly race-based Indian Child Welfare Act got them back for him. Today the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, otherwise known as the Baby Veronica case. [Washington Post, Michael Schearer, earlier here, here]
Because the important thing is to show that lawmakers have their hearts in the right place, which means not lingering over doubts about the constitutionality of the restrictions on speech or the implied rebuke to double-jeopardy norms or the nature of the delegation of federal power to tribal courts. Who cares about that stuff anyway when there’s a message to be sent about being tough on domestic violence?
P.S. In case you wondered, the U.N. is in favor.
Drawing on Chapter 10 of Schools for Misrule, I explain at Cato at Liberty — in response to an exchange between Bryan Caplan and Richard Reinsch — why it isn’t necessary to resort to the a priori rights analysis of the late Murray Rothbard to demonstrate that (& Jeremy Blevins).
As everyone waits for the ObamaCare ruling…
- Justice Kennedy often votes with right half of Court on economic issues, left on social — if only there were a word for that [David Boaz]
- SCOTUS decisions on evidence, Indian law remind us of inadequacies of “red-blue” stereotype of Court divisions [Hans Bader]
- “Can the Government Destroy Property Values ‘Temporarily’ Without Compensation?” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
- New book on how a 1987 Supreme Court decision opened up Indian gaming [James Huffman reviews Ralph Rossum, LLL]
- “That’s Not Kosher: How Four Jewish Butchers Brought Down the First New Deal” [Steven Horwitz, The Freeman]
- Except for, like, not demanding damages or trial or things like that? Declaration of Independence described as “founding lawsuit.” [John Goldberg via TortsProf]
- New book reviews in Federalist Society “Engage”: Richard Epstein on John Inazu, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly, and Robert Gasaway on Michael Greve, The Upside-Down Constitution]
As noted earlier, last week U.N. Human Rights Council rapporteur James Anaya (who also happens to be a lawprof at the University of Arizona) declared the U.S. to be trampling the aboriginal land rights of Indian tribes. I have a new Daily Caller piece pointing out (as I detail at more length in Schools for Misrule) that the U.N.’s involvement with American law school projects is nothing new: “Now the plaintiff’s counsel [in the Western Shoshone claim] of a few years back re-surfaces as the official instrument of a U.N. body, a revolving-door arrangement that is actually quite typical of the international human rights establishment, where a rather small band of crusading law professors, ‘civil society’ activists and Guardian readers around the world seem to take turns investigating each others’, or as the case may be their own, countries for putative human rights violations.” (& Julian Ku, Opinio Juris)
“An American Indian tribe sued some of the world’s largest beer makers today, claiming they knowingly contributed to devastating alcohol-related problems on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.” The Oglala Sioux tribe is asking for $500 million. [AP; Lincoln Journal-Star; Don Surber] More: Jacob Sullum, Ted Frank.